My Favourite Novels and Play

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The novels I love to read have the following start:

"Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming fellow. Romance is the privilege of the rich, not the profession of the unemployed. The poor should be practical and prosaic. It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating. These are the great truths of modern life which Hughie Erskine never realised. Poor Hughie! Intellectually, we must admit, he was not of much importance. He never said a brilliant or even an ill-natured thing in his life. But then he was wonderfully good-looking, with his crisp brown hair, his clear-cut profile, and his grey eyes. He was as popular with men as he was with women and he had every accomplishment except that of making money." (The Model Millionaire).

"You wouldn’t have heard of me unless you’ve read a book called The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. But that’s okay. Mr. Mark Twain wrote that book, and what he wrote was mostly true. He exaggerated some things, but most of it was true. That’s not a big deal. I never met anybody who hasn’t lied at one time or another, except for maybe Aunt Polly, the widow, or Mary. Aunt Polly—Tom’s Aunt Polly, that is—and Mary and the Widow Douglas are all in that book, which was mostly true, except for some exaggerations, as I said before." (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)

"The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things. The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. " (The Picture of Dorian Gray).

"In the ancient city of London, on a certain autumn day in the second quarter of the sixteenth century, a boy was born to a poor family of the name of Canty, who did not want him. On the same day another English child was born to a rich family of the name of Tudor, who did want him. All England wanted him too. England had so longed for him, and hoped for him, and prayed God for him, that, now that he was really come, the people went nearly mad for joy. Mere acquaintances hugged and kissed each other and cried. Everybody took a holiday, and high and low, rich and poor, feasted and danced and sang, and got very mellow; and they kept this up for days and nights together. By day, London was a sight to see, with gay banners waving from every balcony and housetop, and splendid pageants marching along. By night, it was again a sight to see, with its great bonfires at every corner, and its troops of revellers making merry around them." (The Prince and The Pauper)

And have the following end:

"Eliza, in telling Higgins she would not marry him if he asked her, was not coquetting: she was announcing a well-considered decision. When a bachelor interests, and dominates, and teaches, and becomes important to a spinster, as Higgins with Eliza, she always, if she has character enough to be capable of it, considers very seriously indeed whether she will play for becoming that bachelor's wife, especially if he is so little interested in marriage that a determined and devoted woman might capture him if she set herself resolutely to do it. Her decision will depend a good deal on whether she is really free to choose; and that, again, will depend on her age and income. If she is at the end of her youth, and has no security for her livelihood, she will marry him because she must marry anybody who will provide for her. But at Eliza's age a good-looking girl does not feel that pressure; she feels free to pick and choose. She is therefore guided by her instinct in the matter. Eliza's instinct tells her not to marry Higgins. It does not tell her to give him up. It is not in the slightest doubt as to his remaining one of the strongest personal interests in her life. It would be very sorely strained if there was another woman likely to supplant her with him." (Pygmalion)

"GUIDO: Naught would please me better Than to stand fronting you with naked blade In jest, or earnest. Give me mine own sword. Has but one heir, and that false enemy France Waits for the ending of my father's line To fall upon our city. SIMONE: Hush! your father When he is childless will be happier. As for the State, I think our state of Florence Needs no adulterous pilot at its helm. Your life would soil its lilies.
GUIDO: Take off your hands Take off your damned hands. Loose me, I say!
SIMONE: Nay, you are caught in such a cunning vice That nothing will avail you, and your life Narrowed into a single point of shame Ends with that shame and ends most shamefully.
GUIDO: Oh! let me have a priest before I die!
SIMONE: What wouldst thou have a priest for? Tell thy sins To God, whom thou shalt see this very night And then no more for ever. Tell thy sins To Him who is most just, being pitiless, Most pitiful being just. As for myself. . ." (A Florentine Tragedy)

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw is my favorite novel.


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